By Gustavo Arellano
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By Charles Lam
By Charles Lam
That thought delights Harrah.
“Hey, I’ve put a lot of work into this project,” he told me. “I think it’s about time we got it built.”
Now, Harrah—who also owns Original Mike’s restaurant in Santa Ana and is already landlord to numerous government agencies, including the district attorney—is free to build. He is no longer restrained by the need to lease 50 percent of the building before beginning construction. He can bring on silent financial partners without city interference. He can be tardy reimbursing taxpayers for collateral public costs his projects will cause.
But Harrah doesn’t have a cutthroat reputation among his office tenants for nothing. Another city concession could loom large. To help win in 2005, Harrah championed the idea that no tax dollars would be used for this project. The point was even written into the developer agreement. Now, he is no longer banned from seeking public assistance from a city in the midst of a massive budget crisis.
Pulido—the most pro-corporate Democrat you’ll ever meet—and his council colleagues approved of the change but pretended it was meaningless.
With all the sincerity he could muster, the mayor declared, “It doesn’t make sense to use public money for [the project]” before voting to allow Harrah to seek taxpayer funding from the city.
Toward the back of the public-seating section sat Harrah, still surrounded by union workers, who obviously didn’t care who funds the project. Pulido’s assurances put a smile on his face, and he nodded in agreement. Perhaps better than anyone, he knows the mayor’s words don’t trump their bond.
This column appeared in print as "Boss Harrah: Santa Ana sends a message to One Broadway Plaza’s developer: Anything you say, sir."